A former Conservative MP and acute trust chair has been named as the government’s preferred candidate to chair the Care Quality Commission.

David Prior is on his third stint as chair of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals, having originally joined the trust in 2002.

He is due to appear before the health select committee on Wednesday. It will advise the health secretary on whether to proceed with the appointment.

David Prior, a barrister by background, served as Conservative MP for North Norfolk between 1997 and 2001 when he lost his seat to Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb, who is now a health minister.

Mr Prior has also served as deputy chairman and chief executive of the Conservative Party, having previously worked at Lehman Brothers and British Steel.

He will replace Dame Jo Williams who announced her resignation in September after almost three years as chair. He will be the troubled regulator’s third chair. Baroness Barbara Young, the first post holder, quit after 18 months and has said publicly she will never work for the government again following her experience at the regulator.

Four candidates were interviewed for the role. Dame Mary Archer, the former chair of Cambridge University Hospitals Trust who HSJ had previously reported was interested in the role, did not apply.

In a message to Norfolk and Norwich staff last Thursday, Mr Prior announced he could be leaving the trust in the new year due to his nomination as preferred candidate.

He said: “I hope what I have learned here from you I will be able to use in my new role at CQC, not least the relentless commitment to improving the quality of patient care.

“There have been times that I thought I would only leave the trust via the mortuary. I am going slightly earlier than planned because the CQC provided a unique opportunity and challenge which I could not resist and it will provide me with the perfect excuse to inspect your progress at regular intervals!”

If successful at Wednesday’s hearing, which is widely viewed as a formality, Mr Prior will join the CQC as the regulator is drawing up a new strategy following a three month public consultation.